8 Sep 2019

Report into botched Bella Vista subdivision 'not helpful'

10:33 pm on 8 September 2019

A former owner of a home in a botched development in Tauranga says a council report into what happened doesn't reveal much about what went wrong.

Bella Vista subdivision in Tauranga

Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

The council has released an executive summary of a report written on the Bella Vista development by retired judge Graeme Colgan. But the full report is being withheld by the council.

Work on the development started in 2015 and had to stop in 2017 due to ground and building quality issues.

Twenty-one homes were eventually declared dangerous or not up to scratch and had to be abandoned.

The report said the subdivision threw up a particularly glaring conflict of interest that was identified too late, and treated too lightly.

Lee Konowe's family were among those caught up in the construction nightmare. He said the report did not bring anything new to the table.

"The council went through significant self-examination when the group settled out and this report comes substantially after that and I'm just not of the opinion that there was much to gain from it."

Lee Konowe.

Lee Konowe. Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett

Mr Konowe said the reports never got to the crux of the matter, which was the consenting process that allowed the subdivision in the first place.

He said he and his family had moved on and did not have any ongoing issues with the council in regard to the development.

The report said the conflict of interest was probably a factor in the unwarranted passing of a number of building inspections of Bella Vista homes.

It said the council needed to train staff in how to recognise a conflict of interest, and hire a senior manager to oversee a council-wide register of potential and actual conflicts of interest.

The report said there were two main reasons the subdivision failed - one the inherently unstable ground it was built on, and the other was substandard construction of the homes.

It found the land was not properly retained for the development's use.

Mr Colgan found two categories of conduct or omission by council staff contributed to the collapse of the development.

The first was sticking to flawed processes for dealing with the resource consent. The report said staff should not be held responsible for the flawed consequences of their work in this regard.

However, he said some staff failed to meet what was expected of them in their roles.

The council's chief executive Marty Grenfell said most of the issues noted in the report were historic.

"Tauranga City Council is a very different organisation today from that which existed in 2015 to 2017, and our staff involved in the building services activities can be proud of the way they have worked together to address a significant proportion of the issues raised in this and other related reports."

The council now had a much different team and new departmental structures, Mr Grenfell said.

He was looking forward to a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment follow-up review on the actions taken following its 2018 investigation of what happened.

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